And now, Scary-Crayon reviews...
by: Wes

Created by comics legend Jack Kirby in 1971 (arguably sooner, but that's when New Gods v1 #1 was released), the New Gods have gone on to become popular headliners and supporting characters in the DC Comics superhero titles -- or at least they were until most of them met their ends in the recent Death of the New Gods series. Still, thanks to that series, memorable appearances in the DC animated universe, and new plastic representations in Mattel's Justice League Unlimited, DC SuperHeroes, and DC Universe Classics action figure lines, the New Gods have enjoyed a particularly impressive amount of success as of late. And looking to capitalize on that resurgence of popularity, DC Direct has decided to release all-new action figure versions of these Fourth World deities -- complete with sculpts inspired by the artwork of King Kirby himself.

Admittedly, I'm not interested in the entire first wave, which consists of Mr. Miracle, Lightray, Orion, and Darkseid. From what I've seen, they all look pretty great, but much of what I know about the New Gods stems from my recent reading and their animated appearances -- which means that I know next to nothing about Lightray and don't have a particularly strong attachment to Mr. Miracle (though his wife is/was va-va-va-voom). DC Direct's New Gods Darkseid!In addition, Mattel is releasing its own versions of these characters in its current DCUC line -- Darkseid was released (twice) in DCSH way back when, but Orion hit earlier this year and Lightray and Mr. Miracle are slated for 3rd and 4th quarter releases. While DCD and Mattel's respective figure lines aren't quite in direct competition given the specialty market nature of the former and the mass market nature of the latter, I have no problem displaying figures with different visual styles side by side. (It might have something to do with the fact that I was weaned on Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line and its wildly varying styles, but I actually like to see diversity in my figure groupings.) So if the choice comes down to a superarticulated Orion with a removable astro-harness versus a slightly more attractive Orion with only 12-14 points of articulation and an alternate head -- which it did -- then you can guess where my loyalties lie. Mattel even has an Orion (with a removable helmet and the astro-harness) and Lightray 2-pack coming out later this year... so yeah. Many collectors will want both DCD's and Mattel's wares, but some of us are on limited budgets.

That said, I've recently grown to love Darkseid -- so even without an intensive appreciation for Kirby's artwork (I like his work; I just wasn't raised on it, so to speak), I jumped at the chance to add DCD's New Gods Darkseid figure to my collection. And kicking off this review, to the right, you can see how he looked when I pulled him out of the box from my online order! Simply put, the packaging is both attractive and appropriate. It's not collector friendly -- you'll have to tear up or cut the plastic bubble to get at Darkseid and his base -- but that's arguably acceptable (though certainly not ideal) considering the "classic" nature of this line. An image of Darkseid straight from New Gods v1 #1, power lines highlighting the figure, and slanted red text with a yellow 3D outline complete the look, making this parcel visually interesting yet somehow imbuing it with a vintage feel as well. And on the back, you'll find a photo of each of the four characters in the first New Gods wave, along with some background information on each of the characters and an ad for the New Gods graphic novels. Here's what the packaging has to say about Darkseid:

The most evil of villains, Uxas, Lord of Apokolips, has not fared well in fatherhood. After giving away Orion to Highfather and losing Scott Free to a more peaceful life, Darkseid must work alone to succeed in his quest for world domination.

Well, Darkseid's not quite alone -- he's got his son Kalibak, Desaad (sort of), Granny Goodness and the Female Furies, not to mention the Parademons and assorted members of his army on Apokolips -- and some mention of the coveted Anti-Life Equation would have been nice, but that works for a brief introduction to the character. Oh, and he's aiming much higher than world domination -- more like universal domination. Multiversal domination. Across time and space and places where pink narwhals fear to tread. Whatever.

Behold the lord of Apokolips.Darkseid with Kirby-esque accessories!He's positively divine.

So here's New Gods Darkseid freed from his plastic prison and four twisty ties. He comes with three accessories -- a base, a mother box, and a Nintendo Power Glove -- but let's discuss the figure first. Admittedly, I don't have a lot of criticisms: the face looks just like Kirby's artwork, and the sculpt effectively mimics the minimalist detailing of 70s comics with the sparse indentations and jagged lines. Darkseid's hands and feet do seem a tad small, but I suspect that those aspects of the sculpt are an accurate reflection of Kirby's artwork. (This observation may also be influenced by my familiarity with other depictions of Darkseid, which tend to show him with oversized hands and feet, a relatively small head, or both.) In short, proportional concerns and minor paint nicks aside (he has one missing spot on his boot and the paint is a little thin under the chin), this figure is a pretty excellent representation of a Kirby Darkseid.

Still, looking over some old New Gods issues reveals a few potential nitpicks. For example, the blue of Darkseid's outfit was darker in the comics -- and while the arms and legs did have a purplish sort of tinge in the original books, apparently Darkseid's face shared it. So if we take his face to be grey (as the covers suggest), then arguably Darkseid's limbs should be that color as well. Also, in the very earliest issues of New Gods (as well as in SuperFriends and at other points in the character's history, depending upon the artist), Darkseid appears to be wearing underpants rather than his trademark tunic. And then there's the issue of build. While this Darkseid is pretty wide, Kirby's early Darkseid seemed to have a somewhat slighter build in line with the less exaggerated superhero physiques of the day. Still, this figure looks like Darkseid -- and one could argue that, while perhaps it would be more accurate, a figure that incorporated too many of these elements wouldn't look enough like the Darkseid we know and love today to appeal to collectors. I'd disagree -- after all, this figure is supposed to be a Kirby-esque Darkseid -- but the argument has some merit.

The base could be bigger...Thickness > LengthEat your heart out, Thanos!

Articulation is as follows: ball-jointed neck, ball shoulders, hinged elbows and knees, swivel wrists at the glove tops, T-crotch hips, and -- yes! -- a swivel waist joint, which I almost missed because it's pretty tight and blends in quite well. Waist aside, this is pretty standard stuff for DCD figures, so there's nothing really unexpected or exciting here. I don't brake for ball necks the way many collectors do, but it makes perfect sense for Darkseid to have one so that he can look down on all of the unworthy peons that come before his awesome presence. This neck allows him to do that (as well as cock his head to the side and take other suggestive configurations, for those of you into the science of action figure body language), but he can't look very far up. Not that it matters, for very little is above the great Darkseid anyway! The arm articulation works well and provides for a number of interesting poses despite the lack of a bicep swivel, though I admit that I dislike the deep, tight shoulder joints because they can be difficult to work with at times. (They require a bit of force to manipulate, but if you apply that force incorrectly you can snap the arm off with little difficulty... which really sucks.) And the tunic does limit his hip articulation (though due to the foam-like soft plastic used, he's got a much better range of forward and backward motion here than, say, Mattel's DCSH Darkseid), but without ankle articulation or lateral hip movement it's not like he was going to be hitting any ultra-dynamic poses anyway. Darkseid can stand on his own, though the figure's relatively tiny feet mean that his footprint isn't impressively stable. For safety's sake, I recommend using the included base.

Speaking of the base, let's talk about those accessories now. The base does what it needs to do: help Darkseid stand. However, because the same generic base was provided for all of the figures in the line, this one's a little small for the larger liege of Apokolips and leaves part of his foot hanging over the side. A bigger base would have been preferable (I currently have my Darkseid using one of the Superman/Batman bases). And while the Kirby dots adorning the base are both attractive and appropriate, I would personally rather have had a plain white base that resembled an aero-disc. Many folks tend to display their collections without the bases, but that's the kind of base that could blend perfectly into displays while doubling as an actual "play" accessory. Darkseid also comes with a killing glove and a mother box that's even tinier than the one that came with Mattel's DCSH Darkseid. It's so tiny that I almost didn't even see it in the packaging, as it is positioned behind the little Darkseid sticker on the bubble. The mother box would be a lot cooler if Darkseid could properly hold it -- or if it fit into the base -- but as it is, it's likely to be lost promptly. (You can sort of rest the mother box in his palm, but that doesn't count.)

The Infinity Gauntlet killing glove, on the other hand, is admittedly pretty cool. While I'm always afraid when I get figures with interchangeable body parts because the attaching pegs can be prone to tearing (note to toy companies: magnetic attachments are the future!), Darkseid's forearm peg is thick enough to provide some insurance in that respect. Naturally, it requires some considerable force to detach and reattach the appendages (again, here's where magnets would be ideal!), but I attribute this to the size of the peg and the resilience of the plastic. In any case, once you've got Darkseid sporting his killing glove, it looks great (even if it really does look more like the Infinity Gauntlet than the actual killing glove from the comics). It's arguably superfluous -- I don't think Darkseid used it very often, and it pales as a weapon when compared to the character's trademark Omega Beams -- but it's still a nice throwback to Darkseid's (obscure) past.

New Gods Darkseid versus DC Direct's ReActivated SupermanMattel's DC Universe Classics Orion vs New Gods DarkseidNew Gods Darkseid vs Mattel's Justice League Unlimited Superman

Armed with his killing glove or not, New Gods Darkseid will make a great addition to any DC superhero action figure collection. He's not nearly as gargantuan as the Mike Turner-inspired Darkseid released in DCD's Superman/Batman Series 2, but at just over 7" tall (7.125" according to the official release information) his size is accurate for how Kirby (and most artists) draw him in relation to other characters. As such, whether you want to display him alongside other DCD figures or Mattel's slightly shorter DCSH and DCUC offerings, he's appropriately large and in charge: and if he gains an extra quarter inch here or there, you can't even nitpick. After all, he's freaking Darkseid. Heck, if you prefer the oversized Turner version, you can even pit him against Mattel's tiny JLU figures!

Still, while this is a great Darkseid and a worthy addition to anyone's superhero figure collection, one can legitimately ask how he compares to preexisting plastic versions of the character. Despite not owning it, I have no problem declaring that he trumps the Darkseid from the Orion and Darkseid two-pack DCD released a while back. The Turner Darkseid is unique enough to make comparisons unwarranted, though obviously the New Gods version is more in keeping with the traditional look (and size) of the character. And the Mattel JLU figure is tiny and done in the animated style, so they're not really in direct competition either.

''You weak, pathetic fool.''A tender father/son moment.
Comparison of DC Direct New Gods & Mattel DC SuperHeroes Darkseid figuresDarkseid Unlimited!

New Gods Darkseid faces a bit of a challenge, however, when compared to Mattel's DCSH version. Sure, the DCSH Darkseid has more articulation... but in terms of useful joints, the only significant difference is that version's bicep swivels -- and for those of you who care, the DCD version has a much better ball neck. DCSH Darkseid can actually hold his mother box, but New Gods Darkseid has the killing glove. Availability and cost may also come into play: you can find the DCD New Gods Darkseid on the shelves now for around $15, but you'll probably have to resort to the secondary market to get one of Mattel's -- and depending upon where you look, they can be pretty expensive. This goes double if you need your Darkseid to be wearing blue, as Mattel's original DCSH Darkseid release sells for roughly twice as much as the blue-black variant. Those concerns aside, the primary differences between them involve their respective styles. Each has its merits, but neither is objectively better than the other. If you like your Apokoliptian lords more classic and Kirby-esque, you'll like DCD's; if you're up for a more populist interpretation of Darkseid, you'll go for the Four Horsemen sculpt of the DCSH version. And if you don't like the mighty lord of Apokolips, you probably won't care for any of the above. But me? I love me some Darkseid: so for my money, New Gods Darkseid is one of the most impressive DCD figures -- and certainly the most impressive DCD representation of the character -- to date.

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